Bringing Out the Best In Us

I’ve read a number of articles lately about the effect of well-behaved, friendly dogs on people. Our local paper had one saying Santa Fe, New Mexico is now one of the communities with a reading dog program. The dogs are specially trained to help children improve their reading and communication skills by being supportive as the children read to them.

Then the August 10, 2010 Economist had an article entitled Manager’s Best Friend. It explains that the presence of a dog can help groups at work be more cooperative and effective in solving problems.

But the article I enjoyed the most was this one by the
Best Friends Animal Society. It demonstrates that it doesn’t have to be a real dog to have a profound effect. A picture can have magical effects too. A woman with Alzheimer’s disease had been slipping away from her family until she received a card with a picture of a happy dog with a cat draped over its head:

Now, when 87-year-old Sarah Harrell looks at the card with the photo of a “happy, smiling puppy face and tiny kitten draped over its head, she becomes happy, animated, alert and close to being our old Mom again,” Judy says. “Because she so loves the photo, I have it in a frame, and she now keeps it on the table near where she spends much of her day.”

I can understand that. Seeing a dog walking with its owner downtown always lifts my spirits and warms my heart. But so does looking at our Golden Retriever calendar and seeing the pictures on the Daily Puppy. It’s not quite as good as the real thing, of course, but it’s surprising how much it helps for those of us who don’t have pets.

What about you? How do you lift your spirits and warm your heart? How do you bring out the best in yourself?

Thanks to Mike, bikehikebabe, Looney, tikno, Rummuser and Cathy for commenting on last week’s post.
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7 Responses to Bringing Out the Best In Us

  1. bikehikebabe says:

    I looked at the Daily Puppy, a 100 or so of them. I decided that the click on “more puppies” would never go away so I quit.
    This is a good way to identify dogs, at least in puppy form.

    I like dogs, but I’m revealing for the 1st time, I’m actually more of a Cat person.

  2. Jean says:

    bikehikebabe,
    I’m sure cats have the same effect on cat lovers. And it doesn’t have to be pets that warm our hearts and bring out the best in us. I’m sure tikno would say it’s his little ones. Kaitlin certainly had that effect on me when she was a baby. My guess is gardeners react the same to plants they have nurtured.

  3. Rummuser says:

    I ring up one of my grand nieces or nephews, all below five years old and talk for a few minutes and I am in valhalla. They too return the compliment whenever their parents get me on the line to persuade them to do something that the parent has not been able to do.

    I too love to see my son playing around with the dogs that he has adopted. It is difficult to say who is happier, the dog or Ranjan when they meet.
    Rummuser´s last blog post ..A Mail From A Pakistani Friend

  4. Cathy in NZ says:

    On Mondays I now have the antics of Leo. I think he is a Labador dog but apparently he is still a baby @ 2yrs old. He just seems so big to me!

    I was told he would bring me a gift…soon…and by lunchtime I had been given more than my share as my friend informed her DH! First it was a kitchen towel, then the wedge from the kitchen/dining door and then a paper towel from the garbage bin.

    This week, it was only a kitchen towel – apparently the towel is at just the right level for a dog to reach.

    Then Leo decides to get up close and personal and his nose is usually on top of my embroidery hoop and when I look at him, his sorrowful eyes are right there. On Monday, I said “would you like your own needle and thread?” and his response was to give me a strange look and then walk 6″ away and collapse into sleeping pose on the floor! “me, stitch. who are you kidding”

    I come home with dog hair here and there, and I can smell dog on in the train – I suspect everyone else thinks I’ve got a DOG!He was adopted by my friend when her daughter got ill and couldn’t cope…he is restricted to one part of the house because of the dog hair and he has a nice garden to run about in. He gets out and about with the Master of the house. AND he’s probably a very nice dog :-) and for the future foreseeable Mondays I will be having a session with Leo…
    Cathy in NZ´s last blog post ..Some Good- some Questionable

  5. Jean says:

    Rummuser and Cathy,
    I’m happy for you both. I know what you mean by dog hair, Cathy. But I think it’s well worth it. :)

  6. Ursula says:

    Jean, I am so behind myself sooner or later I’ll catch my own tail.

    Interesting how you pose the question: “How do you lift your spirits and warm your heart? How do you bring out the best in yourself?” You put the ball into the player’s court. I don’t: Most things/people which/who lift my spirits and warm my heart I have no influence over; it just happens. What makes me happy: My son flinging his arms round me, a garden whether in bloom or full of slugs, a rainbow, my old friends, my books and BHB (naturally). Not initiated by me: Just there for the taking.

    U

  7. Jean says:

    Ursula,
    Ah, but some people don’t make the decision to take them, to put themselves in positions where good things happen.

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